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Large crowds, live music, and loud fireworks — it would have all the hallmarks of a typical New Year’s celebration, if not for the terrified opossum dangled in a cramped box over the cheering mob. This is Brasstown’s annual “Opossum Drop,” which adds a North Carolina “twist” on the prominent ball drop in Time Square. (See the video under “More about this issue” for a first-hand look.)

In recent years, event organizers have faced increased pressure from animal advocates, culminating in a lawsuit that prevented use of a live opossum in the 2013 event. Not to be deterred, State Representative Roger West (who also happens to sponsor the Opossum Drop) introduced a bill (HB 1131) “to exempt Clay County from state wildlife laws with respect to opossums between the dates of December 26 and January 2.” The bill became law in June 2014.

An implicit acknowledgement that the event violates the state’s existing wildlife laws, this law sets a poor precedent, prioritizing personal and commercial interests over animal welfare. Worse still, this “family friendly” event teaches young kids in attendance that it’s okay to masquerade animal abuse as entertainment.

This leaves us until the end of the year to let North Carolina’s General Assembly know we don’t tolerate this brand of animal cruelty. Fortunately, a trio of Senators that serve on the state’s Environment Committee also voted against this awful piece of legislation. Sign below to stand behind them and call on a law to repeal SL 2014-7.

Sign Here

Dear Senators:

As members of the state’s Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources, I am writing to you to ask you continue standing up against animal cruelty in all of its manifestations. Specifically, this is a request to repeal SL 2014-7, which permits Brasstown, NC to continue using live opossums in their annual New Year’s celebration, the “Opossum Drop.” All but the event’s most ardent supporters recognize this façade for what it is — animal cruelty masquerading as entertainment.

The Opossum Drop is especially dangerous in its depictions of animal cruelty. Billed as a “family friendly” event, the celebration dresses up torture and animal abuse in a veneer of frivolity that belies the tragic underpinnings of the event. Each year, organizers capture and confine the typically reclusive marsupial in a cramped space where it is left to dangle above thousands of cheering onlookers as they celebrate with loud music, fireworks, and even musket fire.

Concerned citizens are dismissed as hippie killjoys out to ruin a town tradition in the name of political correctness. But “tradition” often serves as a last refuge for anachronistic practices that fall from social favor. Opossum Drop’s defenders are particularly disingenuous, ignoring the fact that the event was fabricated in 1990 as a desperate marketing ploy for the tiny Appalachian town. Since then, the event has quickly enshrined a public display of animal cruelty that now enjoys state protection.

Those same supporters also argue the captive opossum receives better treatment than a wild opossum and then is released back into the wild after the event. Yet reams of evidence and experts counter that the abducted mammal suffers potentially lethal trauma from the exposure and likely perishes shortly after release. Opossums are nocturnal creatures that prefer dark and secure areas — not a Plexiglas case left hanging above a rambunctious crowd during a fireworks show.

A replica could easily stand in for these unfortunate opossums and prevent any potential for abuse — not to mention the mounting cost of legal battles in courtrooms and the state legislature — while carrying on the tradition. In fact, true adherents should recall the very first Opossum Drop used a ceramic replica and only later introduced the live opossum.

As it stands now, Opossum Drop’s only legacy is one of animal cruelty, teaching future generations that such mistreatment is not only tolerated, but actually encouraged. The punchline of many jokes, it’s easy and even tempting to dismiss the troubles of this solitary marsupial. It gives me some hope to see a small enclave of reason and empathy operating in an environment dominated by personal and commercial interests.

Please, do what you can to convince your colleagues and your constituents that SL 2014-7 is a shameful law and needs repealed immediately.


(The Undersigned)

Petition Signatures

Jul 22, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Jul 22, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Jul 22, 2014 Shannon Sicocan
Jul 22, 2014 Lori Rodriguez There comes a time when things become outdated, archaic almost, this is one of them!
Jul 22, 2014 Leila Bogley How Barbaric
Jul 22, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Jul 22, 2014 Barbara McNeil
Jul 22, 2014 ebreia alves
Jul 22, 2014 Sandy Sagitto
Jul 22, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Jul 22, 2014 Kathryn Davis
Jul 22, 2014 Sheryl Myhan
Jul 22, 2014 Shannon Rafuse
Jul 22, 2014 Simona Bergman
Jul 22, 2014 Margaret Dougherty
Jul 22, 2014 patricia janssens
Jul 22, 2014 kelly carpenter Opossum are so cute
Jul 22, 2014 Mari Maldonado
Jul 22, 2014 Macarena Campos
Jul 22, 2014 Doug Bartmann
Jul 22, 2014 Sally Wright
Jul 22, 2014 Lisa Wandell
Jul 22, 2014 Veronica Cox Roger West is depraved, a symbol of what is wrong in this country.
Jul 22, 2014 Diane Blichasz
Jul 22, 2014 yardenah presler
Jul 22, 2014 (Name not displayed) Get rid of this animal cruelty. North Carolina wake up and get rid of the various means of torture your state is known for. Opossum drops are not entertaining but cruel. Replace an opossum with a healthy human, tie the person up and drop them instead!
Jul 22, 2014 E.W. W
Jul 22, 2014 Gordana Simunovic
Jul 22, 2014 (Name not displayed) Keep ALL animals safe.
Jul 22, 2014 Julie Lambilliotte
Jul 21, 2014 Wolfgang Wolf
Jul 21, 2014 Alanna Guilbault
Jul 21, 2014 Scott Ploger
Jul 21, 2014 Jennifer Hurlburt
Jul 21, 2014 Julieanne Pogue
Jul 21, 2014 Keyana Garcia
Jul 21, 2014 Trisha MacIntyre
Jul 21, 2014 Doris Volmar
Jul 21, 2014 Ashley Wallace
Jul 21, 2014 Edward Janus
Jul 21, 2014 Maggie Tuhy
Jul 21, 2014 debra goldstein-lustig
Jul 21, 2014 Larry A King
Jul 21, 2014 Marly Medeiros
Jul 21, 2014 Atenéia Araújo
Jul 21, 2014 Shayla Scheitler
Jul 21, 2014 Jason Altman
Jul 21, 2014 Lori Sage

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